5-year plan to conserve vultures

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
5-year plan to conserve vultures

Aug 1, 2015-

The government has prepared a five-year Vulture Conservation Action Plan with an aim to prevent the endangered vulture species from extinction, as the illegal use of toxic Diclofenac, a veterinary drug, threatens their population.

The conservation action plan (2015-2019) endorsed by the government recently is a follow-up document for the implementation of various activities targeted to protect the existing vulture population in the country.

The action plan prepared by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), in coordination with Bird Conservation Nepal, aims to increase the population of the vulture species that are at high risk of extinction unless immediate conservation efforts are adopted. Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), Slender-billed Vulture (Gpys tenuirostris) and White-rumped Vulture populations have dwindled to a critical stage over the years. It is estimated that the total number of these three critically endangered vulture species in the country is fewer than 2,550.

The action plan also aims to decrease the death of wild vultures caused by incidental poisoning, electrocution and other causes by 90 percent by the year 2019.

In Nepal, all the nine species of vulture found globally are recorded including six resident, one winter migrant, one passage migrant and one vagrant species. Poisoning caused by consumption of Diclofenac-laced carcass has emerged as a major cause of death of the endangered species. The country witnessed a sharp decline in vulture population, especially of the White-rumped Vulture (91 percent) and Slender-billed Vulture (96 percent), between 1995 and 2011.

“Our efforts will focus on restoring viable wild populations of all the species of vultures through provision of safe food, maintenance of suitable habitat and captive-breeding and re-introduction,” said Maheshwar Dhakal, spokesperson with DNPWC. Though the government banned the use of Diclfenac as veterinary drug for livestock in 2006, its use is still widespread due to lack of monitoring, Dhakal added. The government has made efforts to protect remaining vulture species through ex-situ conservation by establishing Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre in Chitwan National Park in 2008. There are now 57 white rumped vultures at the centre that breed vultures, rear them and eventually release them into the wild. Seven vulture restaurants have been established in the country where vulture habitats are protected.

Published: 02-08-2015 09:32

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